Some of you reading this will say “the 1911 is the finest battle proven combat pistol in the world”, those who state this probably have not seen what the 1911’s do on the range in the hands of our Marines, nor have they spoken with the Marine Corps 2112’s who are tasked with keeping these pistols running.
Many of you saw the announcement last summer that Colt was awarded a $22,500,000 contract for the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) Close Quarter Battle Pistol (CQBP). When the initial RFI (request for information) on the M45 CQBP was posted by Marine Corps Systems Command it shocked many. Not because MARSOC wanted a new pistol, but because they failed to learn from past lessons with other Special Operations Command units. What really shocked me was the fact that they didn’t take the lessons learned from their predecessor Force Reconnaissance unit’s.
One of SOCOM’s premiere units carried 1911’s from day 1 until the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan kicked off. They too found that the environment’s the 1911’s were exposed to during their more lengthy deployments were not conducive to a properly working pistol. If they were running short direct action missions the pistols would be fine, but if they had to deploy outside with wire for days or weeks on end the reliability of their secondary weapons slowly deteriorated. This unit had asked the Army’s Marksmanship Training Unit (AMU) for assistance in improving the reliability and capacity of their 1911’s. After many different configurations, many changes and hundreds of tests they scrapped the program and purchased modern polymer pistols in a non-standard caliber.
In 2007 immediately following the formation of MARSOC I had my 1st MARSOC class on deck at a company I had recently formed (T1G). The class showed up with 37 MEUSOC 1911 pistols, some new some old. Of the 37 all but 5 were issued out to the students. The remaining were spares. During the 5 day course the 2112 was in the back of the truck 50% of the time repairing 1911’s. By the end of the week he had worked on all 37 pistols. Not all of them had the same failures, but they all went down during the week. The Marines were not rolling around in the mud, nor were they tossing their pistols in the dirt. They were simply running flat range drills! Over the next 4 years I would see 1st hand or hear similar stories from my staff anytime a unit brought 1911’s to training.
If I were selecting a new pistol for a military unit (or anyone for that matter) here are some common attributes I would look for:
Don’t get me wrong, I love 1911’s on the range and I have a number built by Marine Corps 2112’s, and the gunsmiths who build the 1911’s for some of the top shooters in the world. It just wouldn’t be my choice for a pistol that could be forward deployed to any dump in the world.